The granddaddy of fragrant Tillandsias. Native to Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina where the trees in the arid Chaco are filled with this weird and wonderful, highly fragrant species. Having seen many thousands growing wild, I would have to call the plant a ‘vining’ species. The stem may grow to several feet long in older specimens and the leaves reach out and twist into tight curls at the tips. In nature, it may actually climb to the uppermost part of a tree in a few seasons, and many treetops are brimming with dozens of specimens reaching out into space.
The inflorescence is simple or may be branched but bears many very large purple flowers. The fragrance is very strong and a single specimen can perfume an entire garden. Does not root as an adult, so it must be attached with glue or wires to a mount. Best results may come from suspending the plant from a string or wire and hanging it in a bright airy spot. Easiest of all the fragrant Tillandsias to cultivate.
A hybrid of (mallemontii x duratii) by M. Patterson in Australia, it’s a pretty good combination of the two parents. Tillandsia duratii is a robust plant with a long stem and curling leaves, rootless in the adult form and producing a long, branched inflorescence with fragrant purple flowers. Tillandsia mallemontii is a plant with fine leaves, forming a tangled ball with many plants. The slender inflorescence is un-branched and produces a large, fragrant, purple flower.
The hybrid ‘Wonga’ looks more like a skinny duratii with many curly leaves and a long, branching inflorescence. The stunning thing though is that the flowers of both parents are very fragrant and those of ‘Wonga’ are not!